Easton Park Healthcare Heroes!
We’ve had a lot of fun profiling some of the amazing professionals who make Easton Park their home (makers, chefs, entrepreneurs), but right now it feels especially important to honor a few of our own local Easton Park healthcare heroes. Check it out, and be sure to tell them thanks next time you see them around the neighborhood.
Tracy Bellg, Skyline Park resident since 2020
20 years ago, Tracy Bellg was terrified to work in the pediatrics unit. Because the hospital where she worked was short staffed, the first-year nurse had less say in her schedule, and often got floated to work with babies and children. Within six months, her fears had subsided and Tracy knew she had found her calling. When she moved to Austin years later, Tracy got a job at Dell Children’s Hospital and later transitioned from working on the floor to serving as an RN Case Manager for the hospital’s comprehensive care clinic. Each day, she helps the families of medically complex children navigate the often turbulent waters of the healthcare system. By coordinating services, supplies, medications, insurance, and referrals, Tracy helps care for patients and their families.
Today, the clinic serves the top 10% of medically fragile children in Travis County, many of whom have chronic special needs. “It’s a great program,” Tracy says. “We’re always growing and changing what we do depending on the needs of our patients and their families. With the pandemic, we’ve switched to mostly virtual appointments, but we still see patients in person if care can’t be managed virtually.”
In 2017, Tracy married Rudy, and within a few years, the couple was looking for a larger home that had enough room for Tracy’s parents to live with them. After seeing ads for Easton Park, they came out to see the neighborhood and fell in love with the Pacesetter model home that included the casita and garage apartment. “It was the second model we saw, and we immediately knew that was it,” Tracy says. “That’s why we ended up building here and going with this builder: we hadn’t found this kind of floorplan anywhere else.”
Sadly, before they moved in, Tracy’s mom Linda passed away from complications stemming from Alzheimer’s Disease. The rest of the family moved to Easton in August of 2020, and Tracy’s dad, John, is settling in to the home’s attached casita. “He’s a quiet introvert, so he keeps to himself, but we see him for meals and movie nights,” Tracy says. “We all have our privacy; it doesn’t feel weird or awkward. It’s working out really well so far.” Tracy and Rudy both work from home, and their upstairs apartment has made the perfect home office. “Later down the road, we might rent it out,” Tracy says. “It’s a great floorplan in terms of options for how we live currently and for the future.”
Megan Cook, Skyline Park resident since 2020
Megan Cook has always had a heart for underdogs. Now, she fights for them every day as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Dell Children’s Hospital. Dell Children’s isn’t a delivery hospital, so all the tiny patients there have been transferred or come in through emergency room. “A lot of times, the moms aren’t there because they’re recovering in another hospital,” Megan says. “It’s hard. We get these really sweet dads with a deer-in-the-headlights look. I love the NICU because I get to give parents the confidence that they can take care of their babies. We involve them as much as we can. That first diaper change on a one-pound baby is exciting and scary! I always say, I’ll show you and you can do it!’”
Megan has worked in the NICU for three years, including the three nights during the recent Austin snowstorm when she slept at the hospital to be sure she was there for her patients. “I really love it. These babies have gone through more than I have, and they’re so resilient and come out and prove you wrong. Of course there are hard days and sometimes we have really sick babies, but the good stories overcome the bad.”
Megan and her husband, Aaron, first found Easton Park when Aaron attended a co-worker’s Christmas Party at The Union. The couple came back together to look at the model homes and found the perfect floorplan from David Weekley. During construction, they visited daily to check on progress and walk their dog Leo around the neighborhood.
Easton Park has been the perfect place to make their home. “Living here, we’ve seen this great community of people,” Megan says. “Even with COVID, we’ve been able to meet people, and those people have been awesome.” Megan says that the neighborhood’s sense of generosity and sharing was particularly evident during Austin’s recent snowstorm. “On the neighborhood Facebook group, everyone was posting, “Who needs this,’ or ‘I have extra bread and milk,’” Megan says. “It’s an amazing community.”
Elaine McDaniel, Bryant Park resident since 2016
When her kids went to college, Elaine McDaniel wanted to change careers and do something she could be passionate about. After using weight training and exercise to help herself recover from a long-ago back injury, Elaine found a path to help others in similar circumstances through the physical therapy assistant’s program at Kilgore College. Even though only a handful of the hundreds of applicants are accepted each year, she got in and completed the program, graduating at age 55 with her PTA degree.
Now, as a physical therapy assistant, Elaine works to help patients recover after surgeries and falls. While she has enjoyed working with older people at nursing homes, she’s currently working in clinic, helping patients of all ages.
Elaine first moved to Austin 10 years ago to help take care of her aging parents. At that time, she was living in central Austin and commuting to work in San Marcos. “It wasn’t fun living in central Austin because there was so much traffic,” Elaine says. While the commute to San Marcos would only take her 30 minutes, getting home could take more than two hours, depending on the day. Elaine started taking back roads to get home, and on one drive past McKinney Falls she saw a new neighborhood called Easton Park. She liked the houses, and the fact that moving could shorten her commute.
When Elaine moved into Bryant Park in 2016, she was one of the first people to move into Easton Park. “Nothing else was here,” Elaine says. In the five years since then, she’s definitely seen the community grow and change. While she loves swimming laps in the new pool at the The Union, Elaine misses her original neighbors, and she’s had a harder time walking in the neighborhood since losing her beloved long-haired chihuahua, Tika, last year. “It’s a friendly community,” Elaine says, “And you certainly saw the good side of everyone during the snowstorm. Everyone pitched in to help each other.”
When she’s not working, Elaine loves hiking, dancing, and gardening. While she lost some plants in the recent storm, she’s still excited about what the future holds. “There’s always hope in Texas,” Elaine says. “Things come back.”